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“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. ” Ephesians 2:6

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In 2010, I had the privilege of painting murals in a small village in Cambodia. The tiny, rough shacks lining the dirt road comprised a community that was the most notorious brothel district in the world known for the trafficking of very young children. We painted inside a former brothel and a pedophile hotel that was now being re-purposed as a school, church, medical centre and housing for the vulnerable in the community.

Devastatingly,  many children in this community were victims. Some of their parents were even willing to sell them for a TV or a new wardrobe. You cannot imagine the feeling of singing, playing, and laughing with these little ones knowing that later that day, some would be sold to service a sex tourist.

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I’ve since heard many stories from survivors, both from abroad and North America, of their experience being trafficked. It is difficult to comprehend the enormity of damage that is inflicted on an individual who has experienced this degree of abuse and trauma. The amount and duration of healing that must occur, and the courage it takes such an individual to face such trauma, is immense. But this journey takes them from victim to victor.

Most of us have not had to face this level of trauma, but it is impossible to pass through life and not have some degree of trials. There may be days where we fall victim to the sin of another, where an unjust act will be dealt us, when we feel like the world is against us, or that the life we imagined is crumbling apart and not worth saving. Jesus tells us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Like those who have been trafficked and are on their healing journey would prefer to not be called victims, so we too should not succumb to a victim mentality. We do well to remember that for those of us who have made peace with God through Jesus, the battle is already won. We are victors – present tense – not victims! And not only that, we have been raised up and seated in the heavenly places with Jesus! Though the battle is real and rages all around, we can rise above it and look down as spectators knowing God is for us and working all things for good.

And though you may not feel like a victor, understanding that you are is a game changer. You have access to God’s unlimited resources and help to face and fight any battle today. Sure, the enemy would like to ransack your heart and soul, and trample you to pieces (and you may feel as though you already are), but the truth is no matter what you have been through – or what you are facing right now – you are a victor. Jesus had the last say. And since He won, you do too!

So get up fellow sojourner! Remember who you are and whose you are. You are a child of God and a victor! You have been raised up and have all you need to take a step, however difficult, and even thrive for whatever purpose God has for you today, and the next, and the next!

May you see that you are a victor – an overcomer – in Christ!

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  1. In what ways has the enemy tried to convince you you are a victim and can do nothing to change your circumstance?
  2. Ask God to show you the truth and move on to the victory Christ died to provide!

 

 

 

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May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:5

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There was a time where when things broke, we fixed them. I can recall my dad dismantling our broken hair dryer and tinkering with it until its heated airflow was again restored. Once, he even had a car engine – in all its metallic glory – in pieces on our kitchen table!

But we have become a disposable, dollar store society. When something has either broken or lost its purpose, we throw it away. Is it because of the “click” mentality of the internet, the advent of inexpensive Chinese goods, or the plethora of fast food options that we are generally hasty and impatient in our impulsive acquisitions and our ability to take care of them?

This disposable demeanour has spilled over into many aspects of our lives. You see it in the mismanagement of our planet and its resources, in the alarming commodification of human beings and the thriving pornography industry, in the wife who says, “I’ve fallen out of love with you”, or the husband who trades his wife for a newer version. We have grown accustomed to the idea that things, relationships, and even people are dispensable.

But I can’t help wondering whether we might still be equipped with the fortitude to fix. That we still possess the steadfastness needed to put aside our selfish desires, and to put up with some unpleasantness for a time in order to mend what is broken. Could we stop thinking that the next best thing is better and instead stick with – even be satisfied and thankful for – what we have? Could we reach into another’s mess and walk with them for a time rather than turning away? Could we again value and celebrate human life?

I think we can.

I’m not beyond believing that broken can be mended.

Sometimes broken things need to be completely and painstakingly dismantled before they can work again. That’s where it gets messy and many give up. The process of fixing takes too long, appears impossible, is too hard, too painful, and too unpleasant. It’s so much easier to trade it in for something else, or someone else, or to ignore it completely than to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. But whether a broken system, a broken relationship, or a broken life, with the patient love only God provides – and the added steadfastness of Christ – it’s possible for broken things to be restored.

It may take time. It will require patience. It may not look the same once put back together. There may still be cracks or places where the grace glue from the Invisible is still visible, but it will be beautiful in spite of it all. And the beauty won’t merely be in the remaking or the remade, but also in everything else that came as a result.

When things break we learn to:

glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” ~ Romans 5:3-4

And we learn not to give up but instead:

“Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

Like the engine my dad restored, let’s be repairers and restorers – using all our God-given tools to patiently mend the broken bits while never giving up.

May you grow in your love of God and the steadfastness of Christ, and may your relationships become perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 

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  1. Is there a broken relationship or person in your life? Look for any ways to be a repairer.
  2. On the verge of giving up? With God’s help, nothing is impossible! Keep your eyes on God and continue in steadfastness!

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

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By eighteen years of age, I had a parenting file. In it I kept all the Dr. Dobson tips inserted into our church bulletins, along with any other scraps of wisdom I stumbled across. I even read parenting books with all sorts of helpful advice. I was going to be an amazing mom – practically perfect, I thought.

But the books didn’t account for a few things.

There was never a mention of those days when you’re beyond tired and patience prematurely packs its bags. When circumstances shift so fast and hard that life takes a disorienting sharp turn for the worse. When you’re sick so long it starts to look like you’ll never get better. When all your “yes’s'” catch up with you and you’re running ragged, or just barely hanging on emotionally, physically or financially. No, there were no chapters dedicated to how to be an outstanding parent when the bottom drops right out from under you.

No book noted how to respond when a little voice calling mommy interrupts mid-sob, and you make tidy work of wiping tears gushing from a soul rubbed raw by the events you protected them from and some you couldn’t. When everything you did was motivated by love and most of the time that love was far too much or not nearly enough. Mostly, parenting felt like you were feeling in the dark with the occasional scrap of light.

But somewhere between the tickle fights and hair tangles, missing socks and math problems, untold bedtime stories and late night pacing, you managed to be a mom who, despite all her flaws, flips outs and failings was real and kind and good. And all you ever wanted was to raise kids that were too. And that had to be enough because though you didn’t feel nearly enough, you were the one God assigned for the task. And you look at these human beings God gave you to raise and think: they are kind and good and miraculously more than enough. More than you could have dared to dream.

Fast forward twenty years. The parenting books are now untouched. I still lament that I wasn’t a good enough mom, think of the ways I could have, should have, done it differently. I drag my failed self-wisdom and aching heart to the One who is good enough. And in those quiet moments – the moments in between the dinner making and the driving – I thank Him for trusting me with a job that was far too big for my credentials and self-education. Far too big for me alone.

And I realize, it was all because of GRACE.

Heaps and heaps of it. It filled in the cracks I missed, saturated the gaping wounds life inflicted that I couldn’t have hoped to patch, it spilled over the top in healing brimming over beyond measuring.

Grace. The free gift the books missed mentioning. The part where peace takes over and you rest knowing God knew all this and it’s still okay, because He loved so completely He died and made a way to eternity for the likes of those who feel undeserving and not nearly enough. And in His arms you understand that He never asked for perfection anyway – just like you never asked for it from your kids. And you, like they, feel loved…and that covers a multitude.

And this amazing Grace, like a love-blanket, wraps itself around us, pulls us close and declares:

You are enough. You are loved. 

And you realize, it was enough, because He is enough.

He is the One who saw all the not-quite-enoughs, the beautiful sacrifices made when you were on empty, the way you looked into your child’s eyes when you could barely keep your own open, the way you laughed when you could have cried. He knew the mountains you were scaling. And with Him, it is all more than enough. Because somehow, together you were making beauty far beyond anything you could have learned from a book.

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

May you receive God’s grace and love freely today. 

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  1. How do you feel unworthy? Tell God about it and let Him heal those areas.
  2. In what ways have you controlled the parenting process? Chose to let go and let God do the heavy lifting.

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In the fall of 2014, I had an idea. I would make a list of important things I wanted my children to know. Being a serious list-maker in general, this idea posed a fun and interesting challenge. Before I knew it, the list grew to over thirty items. Then, each day I posted a thought for them until they were all used up.

This week I’m branching off slightly from my regular devotional to share my “Thirty-three Days of Thoughts” in hopes that it might inspire you and your loved ones as well. Enjoy! 

  1. Every day is a gift; enjoy the unwrapping.
  2. Dreams are the flight path to beautiful realities.
  3. Be merciful; you never know the mountains others have scaled.
  4. Whether insult or praise, linger briefly on what others say of you.
  5. A well-timed hug removes the need for words.
  6. Spend time with those you love, even when you have no time.
  7. Do what is right, even if no one else is.
  8. Finish what you start; it builds character.
  9. Be kind and expect nothing in return.
  10. Words are powerful; use them wisely.
  11. Nothing worth attaining is easy.
  12. Smile at passing strangers, especially children, teenagers, and the elderly – you make them feel less invisible.
  13. Respect yourself and others in word and deed.
  14. Be gracious to everyone whether they deserve it or not.
  15. Believe in miracles.
  16. Stop and smell the roses; literally and figuratively.
  17. Forgive AND bless your enemies.
  18. Try difficult things.
  19. There is no suitable substitute for hard work.
  20. Keep your word.
  21. Things need to be broken in order to be fixed.
  22. Joy can be found even amid the darkest days.
  23. Choose to be thankful; especially in trials.
  24. Be a faithful friend.
  25. Do good when no one is looking.
  26. Be honest, even if it hurts.
  27. Say I love you, often.
  28. Say I’m sorry when you are wrong.
  29. Listen more than you speak.
  30. Be slow to get angry and quick to forgive.
  31. Be polite.
  32. Be willing to go last.
  33. Put God first.

And one more thought written as a blessing over you:

May you measure your worth not so much by who you or others say you are but rather by Whose you are! 

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  1. Pick one of the Thirty-three thoughts you think presents the most challenge to you and be mindful of it this week.
  2. Try a Thirty-three Day Challenge and each day incorporate a “thought” into your actions and responses that day.

 

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